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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: Daily Maverick by Stephen Grootes.]

Saturday’s official funeral for the world to say a final farewell to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was always going to be a political affair, saying much about our politics of the day. Julius Malema attempted to steal the show with an angry diatribe at some people within the ANC. But he may well have been upstaged by President Cyril Ramaphosa who has probably provided the best diagnosis of our problems yet delivered by a sitting politician. At the same time, many more have tried to twist the past to further their own present-day agenda.
This is the kind of thing we have come to expect in our politics. For a politician, dying is often a political act. Someone who was as big, as important, as monumentally significant as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was never going to pass without there being a huge political impact. At the same time, her death, and the ceremonies which followed it, were always going to be used by present-day politicians for their own selfish ends. In our history, since Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, there has only ever been one event bigger than the funeral of Winnie, and that was the funeral of Madiba himself. In other words, this was, for almost everyone involved, a unique opportunity to make a point while reaching a previously impossible audience.

It would be pleasant to think that while this sort of thing was bound to happen, that perhaps there would have been intense planning behind the scenes to prevent any surprises. But it was not to be. City Press reported on Sunday how Winnie’s family had to be convinced to allow the ANC to speak formally at the funeral, while there is a sideshow around the politics of the ANC Youth League, and how Fikile Mbalula was allowed to speak on their behalf. This is also to be expected. Because events like this are so rare, everyone involved is going to fight for any space they can get, and fight they will, until the very last second. This means decisions will be made on the day, under the greatest possible pressure.

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South Africa at a Glance
57 700 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.9% y/y in August 2018 (CPI) & +6.3 y/y in August 2018 (PPI)
-0.7% q/q (2nd quarter of 2018)
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